UCLA head football coach Jim Mora appeared on The Rich Eisen Show on Friday, and had some very high praise for his team’s young quarterback, Josh Rosen.
Mora said that he believes Rosen — a freshman in 2015 at UCLA — would’ve gone first overall in the 2016 NFL Draft, had the quarterback been eligible for the draft.
Here’s more, via Yahoo’s Dr. Saturday:
“In my opinion, he was the best quarterback in the draft and he would have gone first,” Mora said. “I know that is really a strong statement for a true freshman, but I’ve never – I shouldn’t say never, I’ve been around Peyton [Manning] when he was that age – I can’t remember ever seeing anyone at his age with the arm talent, the intelligence, the decision making, the drive, the passion and the ability that he has.”
And more quotes from Mora’s interview, via NFL.Com:
“I’m going to say (he would’ve been picked first) publicly because I believe it, but with this disclaimer: Unless he continues to work hard, unless he makes good decisions, unless he dedicates himself the way guys like Tom Brady and Drew Brees and Peyton Manning have, then it’s a pipe dream,” Mora said. “And I’ve asked him this. I said ‘Who do you want to be? Do you want to be Johnny Manziel or do you want to be Tom Brady? And you need to make that decision right now and you need to start working in the direction that you want to work in.'”
While Mora is of course going to talk up his player (ticket sales, Heisman campaign, and to just show confidence in the guy), he really may not be far off on this one. Rosen — currently listed at 6’4″, 210 pounds — was a five-star recruit, and the top-ranked pro-style quarterback of the 2015 class. He then went on to throw for 3,670 yards, with 23 touchdown passes, 11 interceptions, and a 60.0 completion percentage in his freshman campaign with the Bruins.
NFL.Com draft analyst Chad Reuter recently ranked Rosen as his No. 9 player in college football entering the 2016 season, and sure had some comments similar to Mora’s:
9. Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA (6-4, 210)
Rosen is the best freshman quarterback I’ve seen since Andrew Luck. Like Jared Goff, he’ll need to get stronger, but there’s no issue with his arm strength now. He’s mobile, keeps his eyes downfield and is very accurate. Even with some of his top targets heading to the NFL after last season, Rosen will lead the Bruins down the field during 2016.
Rosen still has plenty of time to sharpen up his game and improve his draft stock… as he won’t even be eligible to enter the draft until 2018. So, Mora has to be quite pumped to have a guy as his quarterback for two more seasons that he thinks would’ve been the No. 1 pick this year.